When liberty can compromise health, American government tends to take the stand of making laws and regulations for liability purposes rather than letting people take personal responsibility. Examples: 1. In California I used to work for an apple farmer selling unpasteurized apple cider in the Santa Barbara Farmers’ Market. However in my homestate of Pennsylvania it’s illegal to sell such a product because state officials have deemed unpasteurized cider as a health hazard, although many people argue that pasteurization is the real health hazard because it kills enzymes that would benefit the body. Rather than giving people the liberty to educate and decide for themselves if they want to buy unpasteurized products, the government has made the decision for them. 2. Building codes – I’ve mentioned Mike Reynolds’s work a few times and how his houses are designed to be completely independent of outside energy sources. It’s not so surprising then, that his unconvential houses don’t meet conventional state building codes. In fact in the late ’80s Reynolds had several conflicts with clients over his work which he always informed them was “experimental.” The state government got involved and the State of New Mexico moved to strip him of his architect license. I worked for an architect in Alaska, one of the more lenient states in the U.S., who was trying to build houses similar to Reynolds, but even in Alaska, his blueprints couldn’t pass inspection due to state regulations.
Americalibre makes a strong point that our governing bodies feel obliged to take any precautions they can to keep the public safe. That’s one reason why there are so many organizations within our federal and state governments; because there are so many regulations that need to created, monitored and enforced that it would be impossible for one governing body to do this effectively. Sometimes regulations seem so strict that it could be argued they overstep their boundaries in supposedly “free market.”
More controversial initiatives the government takes are regulations that censor media and free speech. These liberties like free speech and the right to our own beliefs are provided to us by the constitution. We justify things like censorship by claiming to protect the mental fragility and innocence of children; I think this is legitimate in many cases. Other times it seems that censorship seeks to protect a prevailing ideal endorsed by the government. This is where things get a bit messier.
Any type of liberty that has an effect on the property of others or the process of capitalism that is practiced without official sanction. For example it is illegal to block a road because you are having a block party if and you don’t have a permit. This and many other examples do not have any discernable effect on safety. There are many of these proceedural, “red tape” type laws. These laws basically give people the impression that, “if it is not explicitly legal it is illegal”. Many of these laws are constructed to benefit the status quo and are largely the result of bureaucratic ignorance. For example there are zoning restrictions that prevent people from owning livestock in the city or prevent farmers from growing industrial hemp.
Both of these laws restrict practices that are acturally quite safe and have no side effects to the population. Yet cities and states outlaw these practices because they believe that they will give them an undesireable image. Lawmakers also make laws against practices because they have some convoluted personal opinion about them that is linked to their identity. In other words, the modern state is no different from the historical state. It will often make arbitrary, illogical laws based on the biases of those in power. In many ways the modern state is more restrictive because of the ability to monitor and surveil large segments of the population in a remote fashion.
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